Re: Presentation Question

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;>
Date: 09/12/04-05:04:52 AM Z
Message-id: <>

Schuyler Grace wrote:
   In this case, I didn't want my work to come off
> like one of those blown-up supersaturated color prints with the
> photographer's signature in gold marker on the image that seem to fill all
> the photography galleries around here,

Now THAT would be totally improper, I have to agree with you there. But
then I think those pictures themselves are inexcusable, so it doesn't
really matter how they sign them IMO. (A Kinkade is a Kinkade, no matter
how much preciousness surrounds the marketing of it, and to my eye these
overblown oversaturated prints are the photographic equivalent of
Kinkade.) I've been lucky to be spared this visual assault; the
galleries I show in and frequent don't show that kind of stuff.

And perhaps I've given the wrong impression. You asked us how we sign
our work, and I told you. I sign a small and discreet "K Thayer" in
archival ink in a place in the image, usually very near the bottom,
where it works with the composition and doesn't detract from the image.
In most cases you wouldn't even notice it unless you were looking for
it. (Gold marker? I don't think so!)

But I think it bears repeating that this works for me because I think of
my work differently than most photographers do. I generally make only
one print of any given image, so even though I start with a negative
(well, not always but most of the time) the marketing of my work has
more in common with the marketing of paintings than the marketing of
photographs. I don't have a stable of images that I reproduce on demand
as most photographers do; the way I work is as follows: I have an
idea, I create the negatives, I make the prints (most often it's a
series instead of just one image), I show them and then I'm done with
it; I almost never go back to that group of negatives again. As I say,
this is much more like the way a painter operates than like
photographers usually operate.

While the way I sign makes sense for me, for my process, and for the way
I work, I don't think it would make sense for very many other people.
For example the big color pictures with the gold marker signatures that
Schuyler mentions, how much sense does that make? None whatever. These
are almost certainly not the only print that the artist ever intends to
make from that image, so why would they sign it as if it were? That just
seems pretentious and hokey. And digital prints or photographs made by
most processes have nothing in common with painting, whereas gum
printing does. I'm not talking here about misguided attempts to make
gum prints look more like paintings by wielding brushmarks across the
image or anything hokey like that; I'm simply talking about the fact
that in both watercolor painting and gum printing, the image is made of
pigment and gum arabic. As I said before, I think of gum printing as a
cross between painting and photography, not as a branch of printmaking,
so signing a one-off gum print the same way you would sign a painting or
a monotype makes sense to me in a way that it wouldn't make sense to
someone who approaches gum printing as a branch of printmaking

By the same token, what would be the point of a platinum printer or
silver printer signing in the image? It wouldn't make any sense and
would look silly; I would be as shocked as Schuyler to see something
like that. So please don't think I'm advocating this as an approach to
signing alt-photo work in general. Since my approach is so
idiosyncratic, my practice in this regard probably isn't very useful to
anyone else, and I'm sorry I mentioned it.

Katharine Thayer
Received on Sun Sep 12 12:00:45 2004

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